Credit Card Bikepacking in Tuscany
Colt Fetters just sent over a series of five videos that he and Hannah captured during their tour along the Italy Divide and the Tuscany Trail last summer. Watch them here and find a few details about the trip…
Hannah and I spent last June touring dirt and gravel roads in Tuscany, from Bologna to Rome. Alternating between the Italy Divide and the Tuscany Trail, we embraced the credit card style of touring. Because of this, we were able to experience a bit more culture along the way. Here’s a set of five videos we made to showcase the lifestyle behind travel on a bike…
Following signs for the L’Eroica cycling event, a vintage bike ride, we found the best gravel roads in Tuscany. The L’Eroica is now a permanent route. Starting and ending in Gaiole-in-Chianti. The ‘strade bianche’ or ‘white roads’, are an absolute prize to ride upon. The entire event started in 1990 in an effort to protect these beautiful gravel roads. The longest option, 209 Kilometers weaves through century-old vineyards and quaint towns. Hannah and I road slowly, enjoying the views and stopped frequently for espresso and pizza.
A rainy day outside of Bologna. The seldom showcased northern countryside of Tuscany has its own charm, as long as you can see past the rain and mud. We followed the historic Via Degli Dei, an ancient Roman military road. In the 90’s the old road was converted into a backpacking path that also allows bikes. Although we didn’t see the route in its prime condition, we feel we got the full experience.
Chianti is quintessential Tuscany. Rolling hills, quaint towns, and delicious wine. This wasn’t the typical ‘roughing it’ style bikepacking trip. We rode through the countryside by day, stopped for espresso when we felt like it, and stayed in guest houses during the night. By sleeping in town as opposed to camping, we were able to enjoy a bit more of the culture, strolling around town in the evenings, and drinking bottles of wine in the town square.
Although we typically prefer smaller towns and rural settings when traveling, it’d have been shameful not to explore the everyday life of larger cities while in Italy. While Rome and Florence were a bit crowded for our taste, we found a balance in Sienna. Locals spent time in the streets, playing music, sketching, or visiting with neighbors. We walked around with ease. The city was small enough that after a few days, we felt like we knew the place. We felt like we were welcome and could stay just as long as we liked.
It is nearly enough of a reason to visit Italy just for the pasta. Every day we were eating copious amounts of it. It was a love affair. The only way to continue once we arrived home, was to learn how to make our own. We found a small cooking school run out of women’s home and made arrangements to spend the day learning the craft. From scratch. Eggs, flour, salt, and oil make for delicious little egg noodles. We left with not only a single experience but a practice that Hannah and I could continue even when we arrived home.